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September 22, 2019

7/31/2019 11:59:00 AM
Growlers mission essential

LWN headline, 7/17: Lawsuits may ground Growlers. LWN editorial, 7/17: “Grounding the Growlers.”
The alliteration is appealing, but really? I don’t think so!
The cause celebre leading to such wishful thinking surfaced when the Navy announced the plan some months ago to add 36 more EA-18G Growler jet aircraft to the fleet already based at NAS Whidbey Island. This announcement raised the hackles of a few very vocal individuals and groups who have promoted every objection possible including noise, pollution, adverse effects on health and environment, wildlife and historic properties! They apparently would wish the airbase and all of its operations would simply go away, i.e., disappear. They have now gained the attention of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has entered the fray by filing a lawsuit against the Navy.
This is simply another “grandstanding” event that Ferguson is noted for in an effort to keep his name before the public, earning him the moniker “Sideshow Bob”. It is predictable that nothing of substance will be gained by the lawsuit other than to make a few NIMBYs and malcontents happy, at least temporarily.
Let’s talk about reality: NAS Whidbey Island became operational in 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and, in that context, I doubt there were any vocal objectors or complaints about noise or other “intrusive” effects! (The Navy also constructed a seaplane base in Oak Harbor that was re-purposed in the 1960s and built outlying airfields in both Skagit and Snohomish counties that today are municipal airports.)
Jet and propeller-driven aircraft have operated there continuously since the 1960s, and today, NAS Whidbey Island is the major – and only – electronic warfare and anti-submarine warfare Naval Air Station on the west coast. Its mission and purpose are essential to the defense of the nation. It occupies a strategic location, represents many billions of taxpayer dollars in capital investment and is a huge economic “engine” to the region.
Anyone who acquires property or moves into the area has to be – with any due diligence – fully aware of the presence of a major military jet airbase on Whidbey Island and all that goes with it. Unless objectors were physically residing there or nearby in 1942, they have no basis to complain.
“Grounding the Growlers” is certainly not one of the valid options, nor is it proposed. And where would the air operations currently based at NAS Whidbey Island be moved to – as the complainers might wish – that wouldn’t have the same effects they object to, only somewhere else, in someone else’s “backyard”?
It is never mentioned that regardless of the number of jets based there, the flight schedule is not continuous, and many are often away at other training sites or on extended deployments around the world. And how many are aware that the Navy’s primary ASW patrol aircraft for decades (the turboprop Lockheed P-3) is being replaced by the turbofan Boeing P-8 (a variant of the commercial B737) that is noticeably quieter than the P-3?
Objectors must either accept reality, take local measures to insulate themselves or move elsewhere. I submit there is more noise (frequency, duration and loudness) emanating from the constant stream of low-flying commercial jets passing over downtown Seattle approaching or departing SeaTac Airport than there is most days in the areas around Whidbey Island.
Bruce Elliot
La Conner

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